Telecommuting is touted as providing the best of both worlds — the ability to make a living while having the flexibility to work when and where you want. However, telecommuting isn’t the be-all solution to work-life balance. Here are five common misconceptions or myths about telecommuting.
1) Telecommuting is ideal for stay-at-home moms. It’s unreasonable to think you can fit full-time or even part-time work around raising a child and keeping a home. Children don’t allow for the hours of uninterrupted time needed to focus on work. Most telecommuting moms make childcare arrangements, such as sending the kids to pre-school or hiring someone to watch their child while they work.
2) Telecommuting means you can work any days or hours you want. Work-flexibility isn’t automatic with telecommuting. Many employers that allow telecommuting want you to work set hours whether that’s 9-to-5 or the swing shift.
3) Telecommuting jobs pay salaries and benefits. Some do, but most don’t. Most work-at-home jobs are contract-based that pay by the hour or by project. There are many advantages to contract work, such as tax deductions on your home office. However, contract workers must also make arrangements for health insurance and retirement.
4) Telecommuting eliminates life hassles. Telecommuting eliminates commuting, but not necessarily the hassle of getting a spouse to work and kids to school. Plus it can create new hassles such as nosy neighbors, no boundaries between work and life, and employers who think you can work any time since you live at your office.
5) Telecommuting eliminates office politics. You might be able to reduce the angst that goes on at the office, but you can’t eliminate it all together. Regular contact with your boss or manager is crucial to a successful telecommuting situation. Because much of this contact is done by email — which lacks facial cues and voice tone — misunderstandings and hard feelings can occur. If you’re not careful, you can get involved in email gossip that can come back to hurt you if your email is shared with the wrong people. Politics is a part of work, even when you telecommute.
I always say a bad day working at home is still better than commuting to work. Despite some of the drawbacks to working at home, I choose it over traditional work because the perks far outweigh the challenges. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to work at home, you need to consider the realities of having a work-at-home job, and whether or not you can overcome the negatives.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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